September 3, 2017

Some Interesting Facts About Oklahoma! Brought to you by Marilyn Clay

I’m a native Oklahoman born and raised among the waving wheat (which really does smell sweet) and acres and acres of cotton fields and alfalfa. My Grandpa Clay was a cotton farmer in western Oklahoma, near Anadarko, where every year since 1930 a huge Indian Pow-Wow is held. The American Indian Exposition at Anadarko in Caddo County features the arts, crafts, and traditions of fourteen Plains Indian Tribes. The dance competitions with the Indians dressed in buckskin and feathers, their feet pounding the earth in time to the throbbing drumbeat is mesmerizing.

I grew up in Ardmore, which is in southern Oklahoma, just south of the Arbuckle Mountains. Rock formations within these mountains lay curiously sideways. Another attraction of the Arbuckle Mountains is Turner Falls. This picturesque 77-foot waterfall cascades down a mountainside to form a natural swimming pool at its base, where nearly everyone in the southern part of the state has been swimming at one time or another. This area is also famous for its natural caves and even an abandoned rock castle, complete with a ghost!

Turner Falls is also home to the Falls Creek Baptist Camp ground, the state’s oldest church camp and also the largest youth encampment in the United States. For many summers during my childhood, I attended church camp at Falls Creek. At the end of the week I carried away enough memories of fun and fellowship to last until summer camp rolled around the following year.

Most everyone knows that Oklahoma is famous for its quick-changing and oftentimes treacherous weather, tornadoes in the spring, flooding and scorching heat in the summer and blizzards and ice storms in the winter. Yet, when the weather turns nice, we all emerge from our homes to enjoy thousands of acres of Oklahoma State and National Parks plus ten mountain ranges. In addition to the Arbuckle Mountains, we have the Wichita Mountains, the Ouachita Mountains, the Kiamichi Mountains, the Quartz Mountains, and the Oklahoma Ozarks. All our mountain ranges are home to a variety of animals such as river otters, red foxes and even black bears! Who knew Oklahoma had bears? Oklahoma also boasts over 200 lakes that create over 55,646 miles of shoreline. So, Oklahoma definitely offers plenty in the way of fishing, boating, and water sports, not to mention hiking and camping.

Lake Murray State Park is the park I’m most familiar with as it is only nine miles (through gorgeous forest-land) south of Ardmore. I spent many pleasant summer afternoons on Lake Murray swimming and water skiing with my friends. My high school prom (and several high school reunions since then) have been held in the spacious ballroom at Lake Murray Lodge. Lake Murray also offers scores of quaint redwood cabins and multiple campsites. My Dad fished on Lake Murray and I caught my first catfish there. I still love eating fried catfish! Hmmm, now that’s good eatin’.

Here are a couple of other fun facts about my state that other folks might not be aware of. The first shopping cart used in grocery stores around the nation was invented and patented in 1937 by an Oklahoman named Sylvan Goldman, who was born in my hometown of Ardmore. Goldman introduced his innovative device in a Humpty Dumpty supermarket in Oklahoma City on June 4, 1937. (FYI: I wasn’t yet born.)

And, the first parking meter in use in the nation was installed in Oklahoma City on July 16, 1935. It was called the Black Maria (don’t ask me why) and was designed by a professor at Oklahoma State University named Holger Thuessen and a student named Gerald Hale, as part of an engineering project requested by Oklahoma newsman Carl Magee. Magee is the one who applied for and received a patent for the parking meter on May 24, 1938.

The following “fact” is not a first, but Oklahoma’s State Rock is certainly unusual. Known as a Rose Rock, these crystallized barium sulfate formations were created 250 million years ago during the Permian Age (although some say rose rocks are still forming today). These unusual rose rock formations are found in only a few rare places on the planet, among them Oklahoma and Egypt. However, it’s Oklahoma’s red sand that gives our Oklahoma rose rocks their reddish hue. Rose rocks found in other places are lighter in color. An Oklahoman named Tom Redwine is said to have used a butter knife to cut a small sandstone formation out of a hole in the ground. After crumbling away the grit, he exposed a rock formation that looked like a rose.

Geologists aren’t sure why rose rocks are common in Oklahoma. But the legend surrounding Oklahoma’s rose rocks says that when gold was found in Georgia in the 1830s, the US Government forgot its treaties with the Indians and drove those living east of the Mississippi to a stretch of land in Oklahoma that had been designated Indian Territory. The Cherokee Tribe made the 1200-mile long journey on foot. Because they were being forced against their will to move away from their own land, and one fourth of them died on their journey west, the arduous trek became known as the Trail of Tears. Legend says that God, looking down from Heaven, turned the blood of the braves and the tears of the maidens that fell to the ground into stones shaped like a rose. And, because The Trail of Tears ended in Oklahoma, rose rocks are common here.

My most recent home in Ardmore, Oklahoma was built in the late 1880s before Oklahoma became a state in 1907. Today that house and many other Victorian gingerbread houses in the southern part of Oklahoma are known as Indian Territory houses. While living there, I found numerous rose rocks in my back yard. Sometimes only a single rose rock is found, sometimes a cluster. The largest cluster of rose rocks found to date by Tom Redwine weighs 788 pounds! He named it “Redwine and Roses.” The last I heard, that rose rock cluster is still on display in Ardmore.

Famous people born in Oklahoma include singers Blake Shelton, Garth Brooks, Carrie Underwood, Reba McEntire, Toby Keith, Vince Gill, Kristin Chenoweth, Woody Guthrie, and Gene Autry, who has an Oklahoma town named after him; plus movie stars James Garner, Ron Howard, Rue McClanahan, Brad Pitt and even Dr. Phil and baseball player Mickey Mantle. Who knew?

I hope you’ve enjoyed my presentation of little-known facts about Oklahoma and I also hope you will enjoy reading some of my novels. Two of them feature the Powhatan Indians who lived alongside the early Jamestown settlers in Virginia. Both of these novels were originally published in hardcover and are titled: Deceptions, A Colonial Jamestown Novel; and Secrets and Lies, which follows the lives of four young English girls who travel to the New World in search of love and the adventure of a lifetime.

Seven of my earlier novels are set during the English Regency Period and were all originally published in paperback. My most recent novels are Regency-set Mysteries. Their titles are: Murder At Morland Manor, Murder In Mayfair, and the recently released Book 3 in my Juliette Abbott Regency Mystery Series: Murder In Margate. Many of my fiction and non-fiction titles have attained Best Seller status on Amazon. Most all of my books are available in both print and Ebook formats from major online retailers. Happy Reading!

Before becoming a full-time writer, MARILYN CLAY enjoyed a career as a fashion illustrator and graphic designer in Dallas Texas, where she owned her own graphics design studio. In the early 90s, after joining Romance Writers of America and winning their contest to design RWA’s new RITA award, Marilyn went on to write seven Regency Romance novels, all published in the late 90s by Kensington Books. Since then, she has written and had over two dozen books published. To learn more about Marilyn Clay’s novels, visit her Amazon Author Central Page or her Marilyn Clay Author website. 

Be sure to leave a comment below for a chance to win a paperback edition of Marilyn Clay’s Jamestown novel Secrets and Lies.
(All info provided by author)


Cheryl Pierson said...

Hi, Marilyn! So glad to "meet" you! I'm a fellow born-and-raised Okie. Born in Duncan and spent many years in Seminole. My parents lived in Ardmore before I was born--dad was a chemical engineer for Baroid. I now live in Oklahoma City. Wonderful post--I thoroughly enjoyed it, and was glad to learn about you and your books!

Maggie King said...

I've never been to Oklahoma, but it's on my bucket list. Somehow I never thought of it as having mountains. Enjoyed your post, Marilyn.

MJ Clay said...

Thank you, ladies for your comments. Yes Maggie, we do have mountains; lots of them!
Cheryl, I wonder if I might have bumped into you at OKC's Barnes & Noble on May Avenue? Definitely one of my favorite places to hang out. Nice to hear from both of you! ☺

traveler said...

What an informative post which I enjoyed greatly. Your state is fascinating. Wishing you happiness.

Linda Swift said...

I enjoyed this post and learned more about your state,Marilyn. We have something in common. I also wrote for Kensington in the mid-to-late 90s (To Love Again line).The "book business" has changed a lot since then and I have to say for the better IMO. I wish you continued success with your books. Linda Swift

Mary Deal said...

I totally enjoyed this presentation of Oklahoma. Many years ago, I visited an aunt in Tulsa when I was 14 and also saw the dilapidated house my mother lived in for a while when her family crossed the country during the Great Depression. My image of Tulsa and Oklahoma was that it was dry and barren. You have painted such a lovely picture of your state, it makes me want to take a second look.

MJ Clay said...

Hello, Linda and Mary,

Yes, well, Oklahoma was once dry and barren back in the 30s during the Dust Bowl days. I lived in Tulsa for a while and it is beautiful! Tulsa is now called Green Country due to all their rain. OKC, where I now live, is also VERY green. We get a lot of rain here, too.
Yes, Linda, the book publishing business has, indeed, changed since the 90s when I sold my first Regency Romance novel to Kensington.I'm still figuring out the new digital world and ebooks and social media, which is part of publishing today. Thanks for your comments, ladies.

Radine Trees Nehring said...

I grew up in Tulsa and my husband and I lived there for a number of years before we moved to the Arkansas Ozarks--BUT you have told me many facts I did not know about my native state. Thank you for a truly interesting post.

MJ Clay said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
MJ Clay said...

Thank you, Radine, for stopping by. My nephew and his wife live in the
Arkansas Ozarks and love it! I understand the country and mountains
are beautiful. Of course, in eastern Oklahoma we also have the Ozarks.
Really glad you enjoyed my post!

Anonymous said...

Loved your post Marilyn. You told me many things I didn't know about Oklahoma. I knew about Turner Falls, but I know about Chickasaw Recreational Area best. My favorite place to camp. I am familiar with most of your books and look forward to reading this latest one.

MJ Clay said...

Thank you.😊 I hope you enjoy Juliette's latest adventure in Margate!

Jane Kirkpatrick said...

I loved the "Rose Rock" and so many other tidbits about your great state. I'll look for your books, too. My kind of stories.

MJ Clay said...

Thank you, Jane, for stopping by. I also enjoyed your post! 😊